SAN BERNARDINO, Calf. — No. 3 Concordia-St. Paul advanced to the semifinals for the fifth consecutive season on Thursday afternoon sweeping No. 6 Central Missouri 25-14, 25-23, 25-23. Katie Habeck had 15 kills, a career high, and hit .480 on the night. Megan Carlson led the defense with 19 digs on the night.
After Habeck, Concordia had a balanced offensive attack with Cassie Haag and Kayla Koenecke each having eight kills and Carlson and Ashley Murtha with seven apiece. Taylor Fieldsted had 10 digs in the defensive effort as well. Amanda Konetchy finished the night with 39 assists as CU hit .278 on the evening. Carlson led the team with four blocks, including three solo, it marked the fourth time in her career with three solo blocks in a match.
“The score was not indicative of the match, this was a battle and it easily could have gone to four or five sets,” head coach Brady Starkey said after the match. Carlson echoed his thought saying, “that was a fun, close match.”
Concordia jumped out to a 8-3 lead in the first set as Carlson has two blocks and kill in the opening moments. The Jennies got within three at 8-5 but the Golden Bears went on a 6-2 run to take a 14-7 lead. Central Missouri used their second timeout of the match trailing 16-8 midway through the first set. CU was on a mission in the first set as they kept controlling the set leading 21-10 late in the set before finishing with a 25-14 set one win.
Habeck had five kills in the first set alone with zero errors. Concordia hit .355 in the opening set with just three errors. Carlson had three of her four blocks in the opening set.
The second set was a barn burner with the Jennies taking the early lead and hanging on for most of the set. Concordia had leads at 12-11, 13-12, 14-13 before UCM went on a run and took a 16-14 lead forcing a CU timeout. The lead was as large as 21-17 in favor of the Jennies. Habeck put CU on her back teaming up with Koenecke for a block and then had back to back kills pulling CU within one. After a UCM timeout Murtha tied the match with a kill to make it 21 all. Trailing 23-22, Carlson had a kill to tie the set and then back to back attack errors gave CU the set two win 25-23.
Habeck had four kills in the second set to lead the offense. The team hit .333 in set two with just four errors on 33 swings. They also had a side out percentage of 77% in the second set.
“She (Habeck) stepped up today, she was able to pick up the team and Amanda did a great job getting the ball to her in places where she could to damage,” explained Starkey.
Haag (Right) talked about how CU was able to finish each set, “we notice the score and understand that when it is late in the set we have to push hard. We do not lose control but understand we have to pick it up when it counts.”
It looked like Concordia would run away with the third set after jumping out to a quick 5-0 lead but UCM composed themselves and battled back tying the set at 10 all. Central Missouri kept on plugging and took a 13-10 lead, CU did not take the lead back until 15-14 but once they did they never gave it back up. Concordia had a 21-17 lead and was poised to punch their ticket for the Final Four. UCM rallied once more getting within two on a few occasions before Concordia won the set 25-23 and clinched the match.